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Exclusive Interview with Continental Tires

Recently, Smithers Rapra spoke with Jay Spears, Director of Standards and Regulation, The Americas for Continental Tire. Jay Spears will be participating in the Tire Manufacturers Panel on day 1 of the Traction Summit 2017 conference and will also be chairing the  'Voice of the Customer' session.

Jay shared his thoughts on the current state of the industry, where the tire and vehicle industry is going and where the relationship between tires and technology needs to be in the future.

 Smithers Rapra:  Your presentation focuses on ‘smart tires’ what are the challenges and opportunities for you as a Tire Manufacturer?

 Jay Spears: Tires are highly engineered, challenging products, but have never been a part of the technology segment.  Both the biggest challenge and opportunity looking into the future of tires is how these somewhat analog products can integrate with the computing world of big data.  Technical information about the condition and usage of tires would lead to better, more efficient products and vehicle performance

 Smithers Rapra: How do smarter tires link in with the trend for increased intelligence in new vehicles?

 Jay Spears: Currently, tires are only connected to a vehicle to tell if they are meeting the correct inflation or not (TPMS)  but this is a somewhat closed system. If tires could be draw in to cloud computing to help with fleet management, and driving performance, they could have the ability to tell the drive about road

 Smithers RapraWe’ll be debating the state of the industry in the panel session with your colleagues from other tire manufacturers (Michelin, Hankook, Maxxis) what do you see as the single biggest unifying challenge to the industry right now? 

 Jay Spears: The largest challenge I see facing the industry is regulations and the uncertainty in them.  Worldwide, there have been an explosion in tire regulations in the last 5 years.  Performance labels and mandated minimum performances have removed the veil of what makes a "good tire".  The public is more informed than they have ever been on tire performance.  At the same time, politically, the environmental impact of tire performance has never been higher.  

Smithers RapraYou will be chairing the session ‘the voice of the customer’ what do you expect to hear from the OE’s on the panel? 

Jay Spears: To be honest, I am not sure what I am going to hear from OEM right now on the direction of the industry.  With the uncertainty of CAFE and Greenhouse gas regulations, it is difficult to predict the direct of tire and vehicle development.